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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

a68       HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

tendency to imitate. It is a matter of the greatest consequence
that children should have only the best models for imitation,
No one should be allowed near them who is likely to set them a
bad example, And if by any chance they see undesirable things
and actions, the teacher must be ready to neutralize the evil effects
by his comments on what has taken place.

In application of these ideas, Fenelon insists on the great
value of story-telling as an aid to learning. That, indeed, is
his one definite contribution to the art of teaching. " Children
are passionately fond of silly stories," he says in his Olympian
way. " You can see them every day transported with joy or
shedding tears as they listen to the stories that are told them,
Do not fail to profit by this propensity. Put spirit into your
narratives: make all the characters in your stories talk. For
example, tell them the story of Joseph. Make his brothers talk
like churls, and Jacob like a tender, broken-hearted father.
Let Joseph himself speak, and take pleasure as master in Egypt
in making his brothers afraid, and then revealing himself to
them. This artless drama, added to the wonders of the tale,
will charm a child.5'* If the child has any facility of speech,
he will want to repeat the story to some one else; and after
he has become accustomed to do so, he can be shown pleasantly
the best method of narration. When there are several children,
they can gradually be led to play the parts of the characters
in the story they have learned. In the treatise On the Education
of Girls the story-telling method is only recommended in the
teaching of religion. But when educating the young Duke of
Burgundy, Fenelon used it more freely. The Fables were written
from day to day with reference to some features, good or bad,
in his pupil's conduct. The Dialogues of the Dead were historical
sketches in which men of all ages were introduced with a view to
creating an interest in universal history. The Tetemachus, with
its representation of an ideal society, was intended for the political
education of the boy, in the hope that through him the govern-
ment of France might one day be reformed. The theory of
educative play has never been more completely put into practical
form than in these books.

* Chapter v.